Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Organizing your kitchen

If it’s a small kitchen or a large one, the less you have the better. The first thing you need to look for in any kitchen is storage. Some closed cabinets, hooks, open shelves to discourage the creepy crawlies, a large sized refrigerator, three trays one each for garlic, onions and potatoes, an easy to clean sink and drain board with a plate rack preferably above the sink. A window is necessary and an exhaust fan yes. A counter top of granite which is the easiest to clean, a two burner stove, a mixer, maybe an oven and a toaster. I have been cooking for family and the odd houseguest for the last 30 years and still don’t have an oven or toaster. Why didn’t I get these? Because they mean more work and more to clean. My few pots and pans are enough. That’s what you need in terms of infrastructure.

One large 4 cm deep frying pan, two pressure cookers (one 5 litres and one 6 litres), two saucepans or vessels with fitting covers. One saucepan for making your beverage of choice, one small saucepan for making sauce of course, and an iron tava. One aluminium or stainless steel handi with lid for cooking boiled rice. You need a measuring cup, a set of mixing bowls, one large, one medium, one small; crockery and cutlery of your choice, a butter dish, and a jug to store your cooking oil with a long handled spoon that hangs on its rim.

Check the size of your storage space in your kitchen and fill it with containers, plastic or metal – four large ones for rice, flour, snacks, spices; four medium sized ones for storing a kilo of sugar, custard powder, tea and coffee; six or ten small glass jars for storing your masala powders turmeric, pepper, cumin (jeera), coriander (dhaniya), red chilli powder, garam masala which are the essentials on your masala shelf, whole mustard, whole cumin and any other ready mix masalas that may take your fancy.

Don’t let anyone fool you; a large double door fridge is a must. It saves you money and time because you can shop till you drop once in a blue moon, cook large amounts, divide the cooked food into meal sized stainless steel containers and stow them in the freezer. Then you don’t have to worry about cooking or shopping for a long time. You will have to buy some storage containers for your freezer check the size of your shelves and the storage space in the freezer door too. You can get a set of water bottles and some Tupperware or glass ware for storing jellies and puddings and other goodies.

Whatever works for you is what I say. You need a sink with a drainboard preferably below a plate rack, a window with an interesting view, a long enough work counter; preferably L-shaped if you have a small kitchen. A stove and a refrigerator. Storage cabinets withn reach with minimum stretching. You should be able to move easily from the sink to the workspace to the stove to the refrigerator and the cabinets. Open shelves beneath the counter are ideal for vessels that are used daily. You need space for your gas cylinders. Avoid placing things directly on the floor, except for the gas cylinders of course. Your lowest shelf should be at least six inches off the floor so that every corner can be cleaned properly.

After you know what should go where, you can pick out a colour scheme, pop some herb planters on the window sill; get pretty spice bottles, whatever. So when you go out shopping for stuff, have a clear idea of the colours you want in your kitchen and buy pretty stuff. After that have a place for everything and everything in its place. You can get decorative rails with hooks to hang your knives, ladles and spatulas from, decorative hooks to hang your mugs and cups from.

Your counter should be as empty as possible. Just the stove, the mixer, the toaster, a jug for oil and nothing else. This will be easy to keep clean and will keep the ants and roaches away.

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